Webb confirms state pension reform plans

20 Sep 11
The state pension is 'not enough to live on' and must be reformed, pensions minister Steve Webb has said.

By Richard Johnstone in Birmingham | 20 September 2011

The state pension is ‘not enough to live on’ and must be reformed, pensions minister Steve Webb has said.

Addressing the Liberal Democrat conference this morning, Webb said  government plans to reform the state pension ‘will happen’, and will have much in common with the party’s policy of a citizen’s pension.

The new pension won’t ‘be a king’s ransom’, he told the conference. But the coalition will scrap top-ups of the current pension of £102.15 a week to create a ‘guaranteed pension clear of the basic means-test’.

He said: ‘Earlier this year I published a green paper setting out options for reform of the state pension. Overwhelmingly, the preferred option was the simple, single decent state pension – something Liberal Democrats have argued for over decades. [This is] now at the forefront of government thinking.’

Webb also told the conference that the government will stick to its plans to increase the pension age to 66 for both men and women quicker than Labour had planned.

The Department for Work and Pensions want this to happen by 2020, six years earlier than Labour intended.

Webb said that this was a ‘ticking timebomb’ left for the government to diffuse.

‘We recognise that pension age changes need to be fair. So although we stand by our plans to equalise men and women more quickly and to move to age 66 more quickly, I can assure you that we will do all that we can to ease that transition for the particular group of women most affected by the change.’

Webb also backed the government’s plans for the Universal Credit, which he said would integrate the tax and benefits system.

He said: ‘At a time when public money was tight, the government was right to invest in the Universal Credit, and Liberal Democrat backing for Iain Duncan Smith’s plans was crucial in bringing this scheme to fruition.’


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